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Bundle up: 18 ways to save on heating costs this winter

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Bundle up: 18 ways to save on heating costs this winter


By Lela Davidson

Frosty temperatures can take a bite out of your winter budget. Depending on your home, some of these suggestions will affect your heating costs more than others, but none of them can hurt. Save your dollars for something more fun than the utility bill. 

I don’t always winterize, but when I do I save a lot of money. Stay toasty, my friends.

1.     Put on a sweater. Grandma’s advice holds true. Get everyone in the family to choose a comfy sweater and collect them in a central location for quick changes upon arrival at home.

2.     Open blinds and windows during the day and close them at night. Let the sunlight do its job and then when it sets, trap the heat in the house.

3.     Put plastic over doors and windows that won’t be used. “Storm” door and window kits are available at most home improvement stores, or you can go rogue with some plastic sheeting and a staple gun.

4.     Put an insulating blanket around your hot water heater. This is an easy way to keep the water heater from doing double duty in cold basements and garages.

5.     Keep blankets on the couch. Cuddling up for some TV or movie time is a great winter activity, but chilling out alone can get chilly. Blankets make everything better.   

6.     Reverse the direction of the ceiling fans. During cold weather they should turn clockwise to push warm air down.

7.     Use throw rugs on hard wood floors. They don’t have to match, they don’t have to be expensive, and they will warm up your feet and insulate from the floor up.

8.     Plug the unused chimney. If you don’t actually use the fireplace, install a chimney plug to prevent air from escaping. If you use your just-for-looks-flip-the-switch gas fireplace, know that it could be costing you a fortune and not really emanating much heat.

9.     Hang blankets over the inside of windows. This is not the most attractive option, but smart people choose shabby over chic if they’re battling serious heat loss.

10.Check the ductwork for leaks. You can pay someone else to do this, but it’s not really that big of a job, as minor leaks can be repaired simply with metal backed tape available at most hardware stores.

11.Invest in a programmable thermostat. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting the temperature to 68 degrees while awake and at home, and 10-15 degrees cooler when asleep or away.

12.Have the furnace serviced and the filters changed. An inefficient furnace will cost you in added energy used so it’s worth the investment in a service call.

13.After using the oven, leave the door partially open to let the heat dissipate into the kitchen and surrounding rooms. Hey, every little bit helps.

14.Cover the attic entry with blankets, insulation, or plastic to prevent warm air from getting sucked out the top of your home.

15.Use a space heater in the room you’re in. These are very effective in small rooms that can be closed off. Most modern heaters have built-in safety features such as automatic shut-off, but use caution.

16.Replace weather stripping around doors and windows. This is a no-brainer that a lot of people don’t bother to do. Don’t listen to these people when they complain about their energy bills.

17.Fill cracks in windows and doors with caulk or silicon. Just because you can’t replace something doesn’t mean you have to lose heat over it. Use this stop-gap measure until you can afford replacements.  

18.Close doors and vents to rooms that are not used regularly. If you don’t have guests, there’s no need to keep your guest room cozy.




Lela Davidson is the author of Blacklisted from the PTA andWho Peed on My Yoga Mat?, collections of irreverent essays about motherhood and the modern family. She blogs about marriage, motherhood, and life-after-40 at, and she writes with a space heater at her feet from November-March.